Modi Gets RSS Go Ahead For Kashmir Package

SRINAGAR: The reassurances given to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) over its concerns on resettling of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir appear to have paved the way for the announcement of a special economic package for Jammu and Kashmir on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Srinagar on Saturday.

The Prime Minister, with state Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by his side, will address a joint rally of coalition partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar on November 7.

Apart from attending the rally, the PM will also meet traders and businessmen and inaugurate a couple of infrastructure projects during his daylong stay in Srinagar.

Modi is expected to announce central assistance for specific infrastructure projects in line with the promise he made to the people of the state during the election campaign to the state assembly polls in November-December 2014. An important part of the economic package will be for the internally displaced people, which include Kashmiri Pandits, and for refugees from Pakistan, according to Business Standard report.

The Centre was keen to announce the economic package, including for rehabilitation of those affected by the floods that Kashmir experienced in 2013, earlier this year. But the RSS had then insisted that the government should be evenhanded in addressing concerns of not only Kashmir but also of Jammu region as well as of Kashmiri Pandits, the report revealed.

“Rehabilitation of Kashmir Pandits in the Valley is a tenet of the BJP-PDP government’s common minimum programme. The RSS misgivings on the issue stemmed from its unhappiness at the Centre having provided a ‘paltry’ Rs 500 crore for the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits in the union budget of 2014-15”, the report added.

However, after consultations between all stakeholders, the PDP-BJP government in Srinagar felt and the Sangh agreed that an atmosphere suitable for the return of Kashmiri Pandit families should first be created in Kashmir Valley before the members of the community can return.

“This is a delicate matter and will be pursued both by the Centre and the state government with utmost care. We believe the PM’s outreach to the valley will be received positively and the time will soon come when these families will be able to return,” a senior RSS leader, who deals with Kashmir, said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled  public rally in Srinagar  is taking place also amid hopes that he would break the ice with Pakistan.

Chief Minister Sayeed has repeatedly said that adverse relations with Pakistan will negatively impact the political and developmental processes in the state.

If sources are to be believed Prime Minister Modi will be addressing Pakistan from Srinagar like his predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee.

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